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  • Cited by 24
Cambridge University Press
Online publication date:
February 2015
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Book description

The primary theoretical question addressed in this book focuses on the lingering concern of how the ancient Maya in the northern Petén Basin were able to sustain large populations in the midst of a tropical forest environment during the Late Classic period. This book asks how agricultural intensification was achieved and how essential resources, such as water and forest products, were managed in both upland areas and seasonal wetlands, or bajos. All of these activities were essential components of an initially sustainable land use strategy that eventually failed to meet the demands of an escalating population. This spiraling disconnect with sound ecological principles undoubtedly contributed to the Maya collapse. The book's findings provide insights that broaden the understanding of the rise of social complexity - the expansion of the political economy, specifically - and, in general terms, the trajectory of cultural evolution of the ancient Maya civilization.


'This interdisciplinary study blends agroforestry and hydroarchaeology to show culture and nature interacting in the florescence and fall of a great Maya city. Rarely has the engineered environment of an ancient community been analyzed in such scrupulous detail: Tikal’s temples and their socioeconomic foundations are, we now perceive, equally impressive.'

Norman Hammond - University of Cambridge

'This impressive volume documents the results of the University of Cincinnati Archaeological Project at Tikal … This book would make an excellent case study for courses in environmental archaeology or historical ecology.'

Natalie G. Mueller Source: Economic Botany

'… Tikal: Paleoecology of an Ancient Maya City represents an outstanding contribution to the social sciences and provides a serious example of effective interdisciplinary research in archaeology. … With Lentz, Dunning, and Scarborough’s new volume, a group of innovative scholars have made Tikal an exemplary test case for historical ecology.'

Source: Latin American Antiquity

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